A Library Project

Hope you had a great weekend.

Snow in April. Forecast for today is 3 to 6 inches. 

Will it still snow after the ice caps melt?

On to my real topic.

Thomas Jayne via Architectural Digest.

The purist approach to a bookcase is books only. Nothing else.

 Purists often follow the 'more is better' philosophy.

This appears to cut across time, personal style and architecture.

Karl Lagerfeld's library in his Paris apartment. The Observer.
"Books are a hard-bound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am the happy victim of books." Karl Lagerfeld

I recently had the pleasure of working on a library for a happy camper from Books Only Camp.

My Sister. But she was willing to decamp. A little.

Sister appreciated the look of my library guest room. But this is too far out of camp.

And not enough books.

The childhood books side of the library/bookcase.

Her home is a sweet 1920s cottage with intact Craftsman style period millwork.

During a prior visit, I consulted on the bookcasing design for Sister's sunroom to library conversion. Scale and proportions, and in the Craftsman tradition, a minimum of ornament were all important considerations. 

It was constructed of solid oak with a next to perfect match of the existing stain. The library looks like it has always been there. Kudos to the carpenter.

On my last visit, I worked on lighting, organizing and styling the new library.

Respecting Sister's comfort with a minor disencampment, I limited the styling to the window sill and the center column of shelves.

I took the fern and framed prints from elsewhere in the house.

With big windows on three walls, the library is flooded with light. The new lamps, our only purchase, shed a pleasant glow after sunset. It is sufficient for a quiet read in the vintage rattan chairs.

The lamps were our only purchase.
Polished concrete with a linen shade. Nice aged bronze hardware. 

The pots and the statuary were tucked away in the dining room's china cabinets. Placing them front and center allows us to see and appreciate them.

The sweet fawn and cherubic children are by Mabel L. Torrey*. Sister has ties to Chicago and Iowa where the Torreys (both Mr and Mrs were sculptors) worked and lived. "Jerry" the little boy on the left, is the spitting image of Sister's son, my nephew (when he was a little boy).

Design tip: group things in uneven numbers. 
But don't be afraid to break this rule!
 I started with one little bust on the right but that made the left side too heavy.
The pair acts as one and balances the whole.

Porcelain and pottery on the shelf below the Torrey's.

After sister returned from a hard day at the office and approved my work,
I asked her where she acquired the nice covered celadon pot?
From you! she replied. My memory sucks.

Design tip: it's OK to mix the refined with the rustic. It adds depth and texture. It shows we're humans, not museum curators.

However, I like discipline in theme and display so I displayed Sister's porcelain and pottery in a classic group of uneven numbers.

To the right of the statues and porcelains, children's books are within easy reach.

On the left, I went for color, pleasing dustjackets and art books.

The special interest sections are housed in two tall cases flanking the big window.

Vintage garden books.

Latinorum librorum copia. (No big surprise some languages are dead.)

 And weighty botanical tomes on the bottom shelf.

Baskets on the floor corral the puzzles and pop-up books. This freed up shelf space and put these items right where a toddler would find them.

A goal for this library was a comfortable room evocative of an earlier, less worrisome and less hurried time before cell phones and iPads.

A room for Sister to enjoy a good read with her grandson. Unwind with a glass of wine after a long day at the office. Enjoy the garden view.

On my next visit, I'll do the two cases opposite the window wall. And recover the chair cushions in kitty proof UltraSuede.

In reality, the cats own the house. 

In the meantime, we're working long distance on the windows.

Where are you on the bookcase scale? Books only? Some other stuff? Lots of stuff and not so many books?

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

*Mabel Torrey's Wynken Blynken and Nod, Wellsboro, PA. Denver is home to the original marble version.

photo by Eddie Nyul


  1. Linda... great post. It looks positively stunning. Tell your sis that she is lucky to have such a talented sis!! Is your sis a Latin teacher? My #2 took Latin in high school and she wore a shirt with the saying "Long Live Latin!" Hope you're not getting too much snow. I'm so sick of it!!

  2. Thanks Katie! My #1 (and only) did Latin in high school too! Still snowing. Dog does not want to go outside. Neither do I!

  3. I love the way that you incorporated the bookcase around the window in what would probably have been a wasted wall. Your sister must have been delighted with the result.
    Imagine that you have snow in April! but it does look pretty on the photos.

    1. It snowed all day. The hyacinth are now blanketed under 6 inches!

  4. What a lovely room that is. The woodwork is lovely.
    I have some bookcases that are 'all book' and some that are a mix of books and interesting bits and pieces. It just depends on the room.

    1. thank you! And thanks for visiting!

  5. I definitely like to mix! Your sister's library is beautiful and so warm. The woodwork is very handsome. Happy spring, Linda!

    1. Yes, handsome is an apt description of Craftsman style. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. What an interesting post! Your blog is very beautiful.
    I hope spring has arrived by now! :)

    1. Thanks for visiting! Yes, our SPRING is really here.

  7. Love your sister's old garden books. What a treasure. I am a mostly books with a few objects person. Our rule is a book must go out when a new one comes in but we often don't manage to discard as liberally as we should. Thus the room for objects on the shelves is limited; mostly we display them on the top.

  8. Hello Linda - did you see the post I did last week on Bastani ice cream - it was as a result of you mentioning it to me that I tried to make some.


Please do. I love to know what you think!